tv Meet the Press MSNBC August 12, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
this morning a special edition of "meet the press." the 2012 gop ticket is now romney/ryan. a critical moment of the campaign. >> with energy and vision, paul ryan has become an intellectual leader of the republican party. >> and a new phase in the fight against president obama. >> the commitment mitt romney and i make to you is this -- we he won't duck the tough issues. we will lead. >> we'll explore all the big questions. who is paul ryan? is he a game-changing choice
politically? do his views on the budget and medicare make the pick higher risk than reward? we've got it covered from both sides. two top republicans who know him well. the chairman of the republican party reince priebus. and the governor of ryan's home state of wisconsin, scott walker. plus, the man whose job it is to help president obama defeat the romney/ryan ticket, chief strategist for the obama campaign, david axelrod. and finally, full analysis on what this all means for the remaining 86 days of the campaign. with us, editor of the national review, rich lowry. msnbc's rachel maddow. author and radio talk show host bill bennett. chief "washington post" correspondent dan balz. and nbc's political director and chief white house correspondent, chuck todd. and good morning. even though the olympics aren't even over, the presidential
campaign has kicked in to a new gear. so, who is paul ryan? let's get to some of the key stats about someone you're going to learn a lot more about. he's 42 years old. fifth generation from janesville, wisconsin. he's a native there. seventh term in the house. he is the powerful house budget chairman. first elected to the house at the age of 28. he's catholic. married to wife janna. three children, liza, charlie and sam. we'll get more on the biography in just a moment. i want to go now live to mooresville, north carolina, on the campaign trail, that's where we find nbc's peter alexander who is on site for the upcoming romney/ryan rally this morning. peter, what can we expect? >> david, they have a full day ahead, both of these candidates. mitt romney and paul rhine will begin their day here near charlotte. they have another event in north carolina and then this evening a big homecoming rally planned in wisconsin. a campaign adviser told us just a short time ago this will be the end until the convention of the two campaigning together. they will split off. the effort is to try to maximize the impact of this new
announcement, having them go to separate places to try to get better numbers in terms of fund-raising as well as bigger crowds. >> we're learning more about the back story. the secrecy behind this pick in the age of a 24-hour news cycle. what have you picked up? >> yeah, reporters are reluctant to acknowledge this, but they outwitted us in the 24-hour news cycle. this twitter news cycle. just to give you a sense, it was a week ago mitt romney offered his choice of paul ryan in person, it would happen in boston, massachusetts, it was determined, at the home of the senior adviser beth myers. the question was, how do you get paul ryan there without being detected by reporters? ryan, as we have now learned from beth myers, who was in charge of this, flew from chicago not to boston, the direct route. instead went to hartford, connecticut, nearly two hours away, where he was picked up by beth myers' 19-year-old son in a rented suv. ryan was not detected, david, because he was wearing jeans, a ball cap, and sunglasses. and then yesterday, or friday, as reporters were staking out his home before the announcement
was made, paul ryan came home for the memorial service for the victims of the shooting at the sikh temple, went in where reporters saw him and left out a back door in his own neighborhood, going through some densely packed woods where he was picked up by an aide, taken to a nearby airport, flown to the virginia area where he stayed in a nondescript hotel, eating take-out food with his family. he didn't even tell his own mom that he had been selected as the vice presidential pick, david, until after midnight saturday morning. >> good stuff. peter alexander on the campaign trail for us in north carolina. great piece about all of this, too, on our nbc politics website as well. let me turn now to the chair of the republican national committee, reince priebus. welcome, chairman. a fellow wisconsin guy has gotten the nod. you're certainly happy about that. let me ask you this, was this a game-changing choice for mitt romney? >> well, i think it is. and i think that what it shows the american people is that mitt romney has the leadership and courage to present to the
american people a real contrast and a real debate in this country that the american people deserve. we deserve to have a debate, and the american people deserve to know the truth as to where we're at in this economy. and i think most importantly, if you don't mind, i think what america is starving for is not only people of their word to run for office, but they're hungry for people to govern like they campaigned. and what this shows the country is that mitt romney is willing to govern like he's campaigned. it's not enough to win. but we have to fix the problems that are facing this country. >> no surprise to you, it didn't take long for democrats to express just how they feel about this pick. dan balz, who will be on our roundtable in just a couple of minutes, wrote in his piece this morning the following, "there was no one on romney's short list of contenders that democrats wanted to run against more than the chairman of the house budget committee. he is the architect, as you well know, of the republican budget on medicare, on what to do about government spending. the obama team has already put out a web ad that i'm sure will
be coming to a tv set near you, and this is an excerpt of it. >> the paul ryan medicare plan turns medicare into a voucher system. >> the paul ryan budget, which cuts aid to the disabled, which cuts aid to immigrants' children, which cuts aid to the elderly -- >> the cuts in here are so dramatic, they are so painful -- >> the democrats might call that the rap sheet against paul ryan. how is he going to handle this? >> first of all, i think you have to look at the president's record, david. let's look at this. wait a second, we've had a credit downgrade in this country. we had a president who promised he was going to carpet the world and deliver nothing. he said that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. and what did he do? he put us on a debt trajectory that is more than all of the debt accumulated before him combined. >> but chairman, i asked you -- >> and the deficit -- >> i understand your position
about the president. but i asked you about, and the democrats are going to take the fight to ryan's record. you talked about governing. >> right. >> well paul ryan's been in the house for 14 years. he has governed. these are his ideas, his plan, evidently they're mitt romney's plans, as well. >> well, listen, i think that if you lay out the contrast and you lay out the choice to the american people, do you want to go down the road of debt, decline, and doubt, or -- and by the way taking $700 billion out of medicare, as president obama did, he stole $700 billion out of medicare to fund european health care, we can go down that route. or we can put solutions on the table to big problems and have the debate. what do we want? do we want solutions -- >> hold on. i'm going to stop you, though. what did you just say about health care? the knock on the president's health care plan is that it cuts medicare spending for seniors. what does paul ryan want to do? what did he propose in his budget, which is to change medicare as we know it. that's an objective fact. because he would change it from how it now operates as a pay for
service into a premium support is what he calls it. other people call it a voucher. you give seniors a certain amount of money and then they have to, you know, get exposed to the private market. that's a fact about what he believes in addition to the fact that on the general budget he certainly wants to cut federal spending way back. that would hurt the social safety net. all of those are facts, right? >> david, if we do nothing and if we go down the road that this president wants to go down and these democrats, medicare will be changed forever as we know it. it will be bankrupt by 2024. medicare is going broke. every person in america watching this now knows that that's true. this president stole, he didn't -- he didn't cut medicare. he stole $700 billion from medicare to fund obama care. if any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to medicare, it's barack obama. he is the one that's destroying medicare. we are the ones that are offering solutions as to how to, number one, preserve medicare for seniors that are at or near
retirement, and number two, figure out a way to make sure that for future generations, we're talking about if you're 54 or younger, how to save medicare and social security. now, these plans, mitt romney's plan, paul ryan's plan, this is a blessing to our country that we have people that are willing to have tough, serious debates about these issues, as opposed to a president who does a lot of talking, he loves the sound of his own voice, but he not only offers nothing, he makes everything worse. >> the ryan vision on medicare is mitt romney's vision. is that fair? >> i think that mitt romney appreciates and admires the work and the ideas that paul ryan has done. but mitt romney has his own plans. the fact is, i think these two gentlemen together are showing this country that they're going to share a lot of ideas on how to get this country back on track and that mitt romney respects paul's ideas and he has the leadership and courage to choose paul ryan. and i think what it shows this
country is that we are going to have a presidency of leadership and courage to solve the biggest problems facing america. >> one of the things that paul ryan has expressed, chairman ryan, to ryan lizza of the "new yorker" is that he was embarrassed by the bush years' profligate spending, increasing the debt. but let's also point to the record. paul ryan was a reliable vote on t.a.r.p., the bank bailout, on the wars, on prescription drug benefits, on tax cuts. everything that he said he was embarrassed by, is he not accountable for those votes? >> well, i think that, you know, you have to judge, you know, a particular vote with the information that you have at that time. and i think in a particular -- >> but i thought he was about, you know, making the tough stands and saying -- >> he is -- >> -- the tough things you have to say to voters. >> there isn't anyone in america that's serious that doesn't think that paul ryan is willing to take leadership positions on tough issues and present this country with a budget and with a plan to get us out of debt. if you contrast that to the democrats, who haven't passed a
budget in 3 1/2 years, which, you know, isn't in compliance with the current law that stands, i mean, the democrats have committed malpractice. paul ryan and mitt romney have exhibited leadership and courage. i mean, this -- i think the 40 headlines that we've seen this morning, it's been pretty clear that people have said this is a courageous choice, but it's what the american people deserve. >> final question, is he ready on day one? >> he's absolutely ready on day one. and -- and the fact of the matter is that's the threshold test. and he meets that test. >> no foreign policy experience, no private sector experience? >> i think 14 years in congress, many trips overseas, many trips over to -- in the middle east. i think mitt romney's leadership, mitt romney's diversity at the olympics, as governor, as someone who understands international business, i think combined these guys are ready on day one, and they're the comeback team, and they're going to help save this country. >> chairman priebus, we will see you down in tampa at the republican convention. >> we're looking forward to it.
>> appreciate you being here this morning. >> thank you, david. >> let's continue our conversation, turn now to the governor of paul ryan's home state of wisconsin, scott walker. governor, welcome to you. >> good to be with you. it's great to have a fellow cheesehead on the ticket. >> cheesehead revolution. >> the wisconsin takeover as we say. thank you to the chairman. >> it's great for wisconsin but it's even greater for america. >> and i've got some tough questions for you, too, about paul ryan's record -- >> i'm used to it. >> -- but i'm going to start with something else. a favorite of his is noodling, the sport of noodling. what is that, exactly? >> you know, that's an interesting one you have to ask paul a little bit more about that. the nice thing about paul at least in our state is we talk a lot about the packers and we talk a lot about hunting in our state. he does a lot of both of those. so in our area we've got the mvp in football and the mvp in sports. we're going to have the next mvp in politics from which is which is as well. >> you said something recently that raised some eyebrows in
romney circles who appeared on morning joe last month and here's what you said about the campaign. >> i think there's a lot of caution. i think the mistake that they've made is feeling like it can just be a referendum on the president. there's got to be something more than that. people won't just vote somebody out. they want to vote somebody in. they go hand in hand. >> i'll ask you the same question. was this a game-changing choice. a concession by romney that he needed to change his approach in the campaign by choosing ryan? >> i absolutely think it is game changing. and it's unique. paul ryan offers something i think distinctively unique. on one hand he has a tremendous way to inspire and pump up the base. you'll see that going into the convention. but at the same time, and we've seen that for years here in wisconsin, he has tremendous appeal to swing voters and independent voters in states like wisconsin that are battleground states because he's smart and he's gold but he listens and he relates well to voters all across the political spectrum. i think this is a game changer. and i think it shows just how courageous mitt romney is not just with this choice but how courageous he's willing to be to take on our fiscal and economic crisis here in america.
>> talking a bit about medicare, it's a signature issue for the chairman of the budget committee as you look at his budget. it's also such a heavily politicized issue in any campaign, as you know well. and i want to go back to something that i was going to show chairman priebus, and that's the polling on this that we have done on the issue of medicare and paul ryan. the reality is, if you look at the polls, the majority of americans, 53%, say it's just fine the way it is or only have minor modifications. that's a huge thing to deal with if you're going to go to voters and say, as paul ryan has, and as presumably romney/ryan will and say, we have to change medicare fundamentally. >> well, i think what you're going to see is, and this is why it's a game changer, the reality is that the obama campaign doesn't want to talk about their record, they don't want to talk about the contrast, all they want to do is attack mitt romney and now attack paul ryan. i think americans deserve better than that. the discourse you've seen in the
past out of paul ryan will raise the stakes. we need a true and honest debate. the reality is -- you said reality. the reality is voters in his district across the spectrum, and everywhere from the blue collar area like janesville, urban, rural, suburban, everything's included, it's one of the most competitive congressional districts in america. and even though he's talked about this for years he consistent will i gets over 60% of the vote there. why? because voters appreciate the truth, and the truth is, seniors and people near retirement are not going to be touched under his plan. and the bigger truth is, in the end, it's going to be governor and then president romney's plan that will ultimately prevail. he's going to protect medicare for seniors. he's going to protect medicare and other programs for future generations. what i think i care about the most is not only my parents, and people like paul ryan's mother, all of whom care very deeply about senior issues. we also care about our children and our grandchildren, and those are the ones that governor romney and paul ryan are going to be looking out for in the future. because the current administration has failed miserably to protect future generations. >> you certainly understand as governor of wisconsin and what you've been through politically
that taking on tough fights like medicare, in your case it was collective bargaining and pensions for state employees, that it has a real political cost. you faced a recall which you survived. politico has an interesting analysis piece by john harris and mike allen, and this is part of it i want to put on the screen for you. "it's hard to overstate the risks romney is taking in making a choice that virtually guarantees a far-reaching debate about the broader role of the government and the entitlement state. simply put, it's a debate republicans have almost never won when they've put it directly before voters in the past. as gingrich learned when he squared off with bill clinton in the 1990s and president bush learned with his politically disastrous effort at social security reform in the second term, voters may despise spending and deficits in the abstract but they like many of these programs in particular." and what i'm getting at, governor, is that what you and others support so strongly about chairman ryan is that he's taken tough stands on big issues like the budget, federal spending, role of government, and medicare, the program for seniors. it would all change under his vision. is that politically risky to
a point that could actually imperil the romney candidacy? >> well, i think conventional wisdom may be in the past in washington is that you can't take those tough decisions on. but here in wisconsin is a good example. a year ago those same sort of polls would have showed you that i probably would have lost a recall election if they predicted at that point. and yet we won by a bigger margin with more votes cast than ever before in that election because in the end, if you put your faith in the voters, if you give them the truth, you believe in the taxpayers, in this case you believe in the american people more than in the government, ultimately those people will stand up and affirm you. and i think that's exactly what's going to happen with the kind of courage, the kind of bold direct courage that governor romney's exhibited both in this announcement of paul ryan and in the larger context of taking out a very specific plan to protect the middle class. i think voters want leadership. i think they're going to get that on this governor as the next president. i think that's good for all of us not only here in wisconsin but across america. >> before you go, about wisconsin. we can put it up on the screen. ten electoral votes. it's an important part of the industrial midwest.
but it's tough for republicans. not since 1988 did a republican -- the last republican to win. is it up for grabs this year? >> it is. and actually, '84 last time. >> yeah, i looked at it i thought that was right. it was 1984. thank you. >> no, that's all right. you're right. in 2000 and 2004, it was the closest blue state in america. out of about 2.5 million votes there were just a few thousand between bush and gore and a few thousand between bush and kerry. obviously a big win in 2008 when then neighboring u.s. senator barack obama was a candidate. i think it's competitive. i thought it was competitive after our election. i think it's even more competitive with paul ryan on the line and i think not just because paul's from wisconsin but i think in the end to win wisconsin, for a republican to win, you not only have to secure your base, you have to reach out to independent swing voters, and in our state we saw my election two months ago what they want more than anything is people who tell them the truth, who are courageous and willing to take on tough decisions and mitt romney and paul ryan are exactly the kind of comeback team we need to make that happen. >> governor scott walker in
wisconsin. our special coverage this morning of the ryan pick. governor, thanks so much. >> thank you, david. >> joining me now, the top adviser to president obama's re-election campaign, david axelrod. mr. axelrod, welcome back. >> good morning, david. good to be with you. >> thank you. let's talk about a game changing choice in paul ryan. is this everything that you and team obama wanted? >> well, look, i think it's a choice that will thrill the most strident voices in the republican party, the tea party, the social conservatives. i think it's going to be troubling to the mainstream of the american electorate. you've got him in representative ryan and congressman ryan, as you point out, the architect of a budget that would shower trillions of dollars of new tax cuts skewed to the wealthy, $250,000 for the average millionaire, while he cuts back on college aid to kids, and research, and innovation and all the things that we need to grow the economy. and on things that people rely on, nursing home care for seniors, and for the disabled and so on.
so, you know, i think that it clarifies the choice for the american people. and i think it clarifies the choice in a way that is going to be helpful. >> paul ryan has been on this program five times. he's talked about these issues before. i have raised with him the fact that back when newt gingrich was on the program saying that the ryan budget and his plan to transform medicare was, in gingrich's words, right-wing social engineering, something he backed off from, that a lot of republicans wanted to distance themselves, as they did, from the ryan plan. and this is what he said back in may of last year. watch. >> look, of course people are scared of entitlement reform. because every time you put entitlement reform out there, the other party uses it as a political weapon against you. look, both parties have done this to each other. here's the problem, david. if we don't get serious about these issues, if we don't get serious about the drivers of your debt, we're going to have a debt crisis. and the irony of this is all, if we don't fix these programs, people who rely on these
benefits are going to get cut the first. they're going to be hurt the worst under a debt crisis. we're saying, if we fix this now, we can keep the current promise to current seniors and people ten years away from retirement. >> so what he's now saying on the campaign trail with mitt romney is that president obama will scare seniors about what they want to do about medicare, here is now a duo finally saying, let's solve the problem before change is forced upon the people who need these programs most. >> yeah, well, let's be clear. the president already has taken steps that added eight years to the life of medicare, and his budget would add several more. he's made some important choices that are going to help that program moving forward. >> eight years is not a real fix, though. >> but the question -- but -- >> eight years is not a fix to -- >> there's no doubt, david, that we've got to do more. but the question is are you going to do it in a way that preserves the program and the basic integrity of the program and the access to care that seniors need, or are you going to turn it into a voucher program with ever-decreasing value of the vouchers relative
to health care costs and throw seniors onto the tender mercies of the private insurance market? the question is, do you really believe in medicare, or do you not? i believe what -- what newt gingrich said on your program. i think it's right-wing social engineering. i don't believe that they believe in that program. i think it's interesting that if you listen to your guests today and the first thing that the romney campaign put out yesterday, they're trying to distance themselves from this plan. in terms of debt, i heard congressman ryan talk about debt. as you pointed out, this was a guy who rubber-stamped every aspect of the bush economic policy, including not paying for two wars, a social security -- medicare prescription plan, two big tax cuts, and now he wants trillions of dollars of more budget-busting tax cuts skewed to the wealthy. he's not in a position, he really isn't in a strong position to talk about this problem. >> david, let's talk more about what paul ryan is campaigning on now. he was in virginia yesterday. and he talked about the reality of the obama record. this is in part what he said.
>> no one -- no one disputes that president obama inherited a difficult situation. and in his first two years, with his party in complete control of washington, he passed nearly every item on his agenda. but that didn't make things better. in fact, we find ourselves in a nation facing debt, doubts, and despair. >> he went on to say, look, president obama, even though he campaigns against washington dysfunction, got everything he wanted, he got a stimulus, he got financial reform, he got health care reform, we're at 8.3% unemployment. that's the record. >> well, the record is, when the president walked in the door, he walked in to 800,000 jobs a month being lost. the quarter before he took office, we had the worst performance since 1930. that is the economy that paul ryan and the republicans delivered to this president. he took steps to stop that free-fall. but, of course, we have more to do.
and we have more to do not just to -- to deal with unemployment, but to rebuild the middle class in this country. and the way to do it is not to give trillions of dollars of new tax cuts to the wealthiest americans, raise taxes on the middle class and cut things like college loans and research and technology infrastructure, energy, this is a prescription for economic catastrophe, and what is surprising to me is that having been part of the first catastrophe that congressman ryan thinks that we should double down on that policy and do it all over again. >> bottom line, clear choices here for this campaign, big campaign, big ideas, big disagreements. will either side have a mandate to govern and make changes at the end of this campaign? >> i think what's very clear, and you can see the way -- you know, there were debates in the republican primary, david, where neither governor romney nor any of the other candidates even mentioned the word middle class. now they're sort of incorporating it into their rhetoric. i think that is a recognition that there's a national consensus that we need to pursue economic policies that will lift the middle class.
and we have a very clear choice as to whose will and whose won't. and who won't. and i think that will create pressure for policies that will move our country forward in the right direction. when the president's re-elected in november. >> we're also -- those of us who cover these campaigns understand that even though there's a big choice here, it's not as if some of the -- some of the, you know, personal destruction back and forth is going to go away. and we've seen a lot of that this week, and governor romney has taken particular aim at an ad that's being run by the president's own super pac run by a former press aide to the campaign, and in the white house, and this is a campaign about mitt romney's tenure at bain, even though the story that's highlighted in the super pac ad happened after mitt romney left. let me play a portion of this and also show you how mitt romney's responding to it. watch. >> when mitt romney and bain closed the plant, i lost my health care. and my family lost their health care. and short time after that my wife became ill, it was -- there
was nothing they could do for her. and she passed away in 22 days. >> the president understandably has resorted to a very unusual campaign. and that is in some respects i think he disrespects the office by taking the campaign down to the very lowest point i can recall in my lifetime. >> disrespecting the office of the presidency is the charge from mitt romney about ads like that, with the implication that somehow bain and mitt romney was responsible for that woman's death. how do you respond to that? >> well, i certainly don't think that would be a fair implication. that isn't stated in the ad. it's not a fair implication. but, what is true is that governor romney and his partners loaded that company with debt, walked away with millions of dollars, and left the workers there bereft without the health care they were promised, without the pensions and other benefits that they were promised. and that is endemic of -- emblematic of the kind of -- >> you don't think that ad was a low blow -- >> that is important --
>> it didn't cross the line in the debate? >> let me ask you something, david. how does mitt rommi in the very week that he's running an ad that he approves, at the end he says i'm mitt romney and i approve this message, millions and millions and millions of dollars, accusing the president of removing the work requirement from welfare, which every single person who's looked at it, every expert, every news organization, every fact checker has said is patently false, and he is lecturing people on the quality of campaigns? he ought to be ashamed of himself. he ought to tell his own campaign and the commercials that he controls -- the commercials that he controls take that off, it's not true. it's not fair. when he does that, maybe he'll have some standing to lecture other people on the quality of the campaign. >> we're in a new gear in this campaign. clearly. david axelrod, thank you very much. >> all right, thank you. >> coming up, more of our special hour here. what drove romney's decision to pick paul ryan, and what impact will it have on this campaign? joining-u "the national review's" rich lowry. msnbc's rachel maddow. radio talk show host and author,
it's gone from the surreal to the real. >> yes. >> by the time we met in person i kind of knew it was going to happen. and i was very humbled. it was the biggest honor i've ever been given in my life. and i love this country dearly and i feel like we have an opportunity to fix -- fix things once and for all.
>> that was yesterday on the campaign plane. the new team, romney/ryan now on the campaign trail. we're back with our political roundtable. joining me, political reporter for "the washington post," veteran of too many campaigns to count, which is amazing because you're only 35, dan balz. chief white house correspondent of nbc news, our political director, host of "the daily rundown" on msnbc, he broke the news about the pick as well, chuck todd. host of msnbc's the rachel maddow show, rachel maddow. editor of the national review rich lowry is here, a big advocate for paul ryan in the closing days. and from north carolina, washington fellow of the clairemont institute, bill bennett for whom a young paul ryan once worked. as if at 42 he's no longer young. welcome to all of you. >> still young. >> chuck todd, you can tell i'm -- you know, i'm -- >> you feel old now. that's what you're trying to say. >> that's what i'm trying to say. this is an exciting time. we are in a new phase of this campaign. you heard it from david axelrod at the top of the program.
there is this new intensity. let's go back to basics here. why did mitt romney make this choice? >> he needed to relaunch his campaign. i think that's clear. he made that decision. if you think about what they thought this race was going to be, you know, stuart stevens, the chief strategist would argue this for months on end, this is going to be about president obama and it's going to be a referendum and it's going to be about the economy. i think they made the decision that wasn't enough. and what this pick does is it gives romney some definition beyond just being this rich guy, which they were struggling with. the president had spent the summer beating the daylights out of him personally. we've seen it in all of these polls. you know what opened up in the polling -- >> let's show the polling as you describe this. >> we've seen some. but what really opened up this summer was romney's unfavorable rating. that's what, quote, opened up. >> a new political poll has him closer. in the fox poll and the cnn poll you were starting to see some distance. let me bring in dan balz here. not only with this widening in the race for president obama,
but with this choice as you wrote in your piece yesterday, we have real clarity now. >> we have perhaps the clearest choice that i can remember in a campaign. the visions of these two nominees are as starkly different as anything we've seen in a long time. and the choice of paul ryan sharply etches that in a way that, without somebody like him on the ticket, it would not have been quite as clear. both sides now recognize that. both sides now, interestingly, say this is the debate they really want to have. we'll see -- >> if it's the debate we actually get. >> we'll see if that's the case in the coming weeks because up till now we have not gotten that kind of debate. but this is, "a," a big election, and very, very big difference. >> so here i've got rachel maddow and i've got bill bennett, and both people are smiling this morning. and we're going to get to why. one of the things that happened in the age of twitter, the first vp pick in the age of twitter, i mean, the social platform really lit up. and i've got some sampling from both the left and the right that i think illustrates the point that you have. among liberals, we saw from the likes of donna brazile, who ran
al gore's campaign, she wrote "in selecting paul ryan mitt romney fills a huge gap in his presidential campaign. vision. he embraced a radical gop budget ideologue." from paul begala, "romney/ryan double down on trickle-down with the hash tag romneyhood." on the other side from conservatives fred barnes of the weekly standard writing, "what does paul ryan add to the romney ticket? everything. ryan is bold, not cautious and scared. he's a man with a plan. ryan's plan." rach rachel, both sides smiling. why? >> i talked to a democratic fund-raiser on friday before we knew that the pick was going to happen saturday morning. and i was teasing him about how much more money republicans are raising this year. and he said yeah, basically our plan at this point is just to pray for mitt romney to pick paul ryan, and then any money that we do have we're going to spend on a margarita machine. democrats think that this is the best thing that could possibly happen to their campaign. it's no longer do you like the way the country's going or not. if the answer is no, vote against obama for a generic pick that we're going to try really hard to define. now the choice is you may not
like afghanistan or renewable energy or solyndra or health insurance coverage for contraception or something, fine. do you like medicare? now it is a choice. it is no longer just a referendum on obama, and that's everything they wanted. >> bill bennett, how do you see it? >> well, i see paul ryan as a serious man for serious times. and here's what i think. it is a clear choice. there will be a serious debate. if people will pause and think about the debate, think about the arguments, and take paul ryan's argument seriously that he will make and lead on, and he's got a winning way. this is one of the reasons he was picked. this guy has a way of presenting things that makes people listen. he's got that jack kemp style and wins over a lot of people. if they pause and reflect on it, and see the problems that they have, his solution, i think we have a very good chance of winning. if we stay at the cheap shot level, you know, that mitt romney kills people, mitt romney, you know, is a vulture capitalist then we have a problem. what ryan does is gives the campaign definition, as chuck todd said yesterday. but he gives it reality, too.
you don't have the caricature of paul ryan now to talk about. you have to deal with paul ryan. and i very much look forward to that biden/ryan debate. >> we'll get to that in a money. your first impression, rich lowry, among the high-profile conservatives really putting pressure down the stretch here to pick ryan. >> yeah. i think it's a pick that really speaks well for mitt romney. shows he has a good eye for talent. shows he is bolder and more creative than some of us, even supporters of his had given him credit for. and shows, david, a real commitment to getting some big things done. and he wasn't going to win a strictly safe or a strictly biographical campaign. this pick puts the accent more on substance and puts the guy on the ticket who is perhaps best capable among current republicans to defend a forward-looking agenda. and the medicare attack was going to come regardless. because mitt romney is already in favor of premium support for medicare. and look, democrats are already accusing mitt romney of killing someone, and they haven't even gotten to medicare yet. so the medicare attack --
>> but you heard rooens reince priebus say that the president has blood on his hands in terms of medicare because of what he did in health care. so i think -- >> republicans should go on offense on medicare. because the president as part of obama care passed $700 billion in cuts in medicare. and romney wants to repeal obama care, including those cuts. >> wait, wait, wait. >> hold on. so at the top of the ticket, romney versus obama, there's only one of those guys who wants any cuts affecting current seniors. >> wait, wait, romney versus ryan, then. the ryan plan keeps the obama cuts for medicare. >> the ryan plan does -- >> so which one is it -- >> the ryan plan does mostly as a matter of preserving the cbo baseline. but the top of the ticket is mitt romney. mitt romney wants to repeal those cuts. and the fact is, rachel -- >> that's amazing. we're going to have romney versus ryan on medicare. >> if a republican were proposing $700 billion, had passed $700 billion in medicare cuts you'd be savaging that president for their brutality to seniors. >> but you're saying, wait -- >> that is barack obama.
>> is romney running on the ryan plan or not? he said that he is. >> he's running on his own version of those ideas. >> let me -- >> paul ryan is the second on the ticket. >> let me take a step back and get your impression. one of the things that we've already seen just on this program so far is that i don't think -- here were real allies of paul ryan who were not in a position to defend -- >> i didn't hear what rich wants this morning so far, which is republicans going out there and defending the ryan plan on medicare in a way and going on offense. >> let's be clear, it's what rich wants that matters. >> reince priebus today did not sound like a guy who wants to have that conversation. and i think that this is going to be the struggle. i am fascinated by the fact, look, i don't think you can read anything into this other than it's time to split romney and ryan off. but i thought at first we were going to see romney and ryan together make a stop in florida. look, the medicare thing. it's not just a clear choice. i actually think now the floor and the ceiling in this race is now expanded. where i thought the window of
this race was a 51/49 race no matter what i think the window is wider. because now you're having a large debate and there's going to be -- we're going to get a mandate election. >> i mean, the reality is that ryan has not won this argument within the republican electorate. when you look at the polling on medicare, it's not just democrats and independents who oppose the kind of change that ryan is advocating. and he is a very effective advocate for what he's trying to do. but there's still a majority of republicans who do not like the idea of a premium support program. this will be a big test of whether ryan and romney can effectively make the argument that a lot of republicans say has to be made. scott walker, governor walker, made this comment this morning that tough things need to be done. and i asked a romney adviser yesterday, how are you going to deal with this question on medicare and they said, we think that the public, a lot of people who think these issues need to be dealt with, and that we can win that argument on that basis. but they haven't begun to build -- >> bill bennett, let me get you in here.
>> it's a little more complicated, though. let's bear in mind that you had the ryan rivlin program, alice rivlin was bill clinton's omb director, they came together on the medicare program. on the premium support proposal of paul ryan he's got an interesting ally in ron widen. we'll see how much pressure is put on ron widen this way. but what ryan says, and i think again the case can be made, that if you want to save medicare you have to do something. let's be clear, no changes for anybody over 55. people under 55 can stay with traditional medicare, or they can go to the premium support system. dan's right. the argument needs to be made. but he's not the only one making it, and some very prominent democrats have backed paul ryan in the past. we'll see if they step up. >> let me get to a break here. i want to get back, talk more about the politics of the ryan pick, look at the battleground map as well as we see this race not only getting into a higher gear but really changing in its direction. back with more of our roundtable right after this.
join me in welcoming the next president of the united states, paul ryan. join me in welcoming the next president of the united states, paul ryan. every now and then i'm known to make a mistake. i did not make a mistake with this guy. but i can tell you this, he's going to be the next vice president of the united states. >> that was yesterday, at the unveiling of paul ryan in virginia. everybody got a good laugh out of that. well, guess what, four years ago, then-senator obama, this is how he introduced joe biden. >> so let me introduce to you the next president -- the next vice president of the united states of america, joe biden! >> we're back with the roundtable. dan balz, it does underscore, these are nervous moments for the candidate. they're big moments in the campaign. >> the other thing it reminds us, there are certain phrases we all get in our heads. and i'm sure they do too. >> think about it, you're introduced every day, you hear that phrase if you're obama and romney, you hear that phrase as the next president of the united
states. so the minute you see it in your script it's like rote. >> there is no famous phrase in america that includes the phrase vice president of the united states. >> then he puts his arm around him and says once in a while i make a mistake. this is not the mistake. >> i want to talk more about pure politics. look at the battleground map, one of the things before this pick was made that you i know were talking about, chuck, romney has not expanded that battleground map. and now we're going to add in some of the older populations. walk us through this. >> it is. first of all, he hasn't extended the map. wisconsin has been teetering back and forth. i think now you definitely take it out of the sort of light blue category and put it squarely for tossup. ryan does help, particularly in the milwaukee area, which is a little more of a democratic area but he will help there. his own district is one that obama carried and all that. but three of the oldest state populations in the country are florida, iowa, and pennsylvania. and pennsylvania, by the way, is a state that republicans want to try to get into the battleground and i think when you look at these 65-plus populations in
florida, iowa, and pennsylvania i think you can just push pennsylvania out of the battleground. there's already -- we don't see advertising on it coming from the romney campaign now. i don't think it gets in now because of the medicare thing. and i think now florida, which is a state that some people thought pinky on the scale for the republicans. now you have -- it is going to be a different conversation that takes place there. and iowa, another state that i think the president very vulnerable in. i think he is repped and reinforced in because of the older population on medicare. >> let me go first to bill and then rachel. just pure politics, bill bennett, has this become a model of a very close election that with a higher risk choice as a running mate that has the potential for higher reward but also the higher risk, then, as this may not be as close? >> yeah, i think there is potential higher reward. i think it's nationalized him. and i think the state by state analysis is interesting. but i think with the definition this campaign's been given it's also been made a much more national campaign. it's about big ideas. it's about the future of the
country. a lot of us think president obama is wrecking the country. and we have to do some responsible things to fix it. protect people who have medicare now. protect medicare for the present, give people a chance for the future to stick with it or to go to the other system. but things have to be done. i think the american people know that. i think this is more on the -- on the level of reagan/carter than on parsing state by state. it became a national election yesterday, and you'll see as these ideas develop that we're going to be having a debate. and we will decide on the basis of reflection and choice what kind of country we're going to have. that's how we started this country. reflection and choice. and that's how we're going to make this decision for the future. >> rachel, is there some part of you that says, i understand all the arguments against paul ryan. i also understand the hunger for big ideas and big solutions in the country that we'll discuss with washington because of the smallness of their ideas and that yeah, maybe swing voters will respond to two guys standing up and saying, look, we're going to do something really, really hard on medicare. we're going to do something
really, really hard on size and scope of government. >> if that were the character of the ryan plan -- i mean the reason that the ryan plan, i think is more ripe for attack than it is for appeal to a broad section of the country is because it doesn't have very many numbers in it. the ryan plan says on top of the bush tax cuts we're going to do more than $4 trillion more in tax cuts mostly affecting the wealthy. but he says that's going to be revenue neutral. how can that be revenue neutral? there will be loopholes that will be closed. but he won't say what any of those are. he's not a fiscal conservative. he's a supply sider, which says cut taxes for the richest people as deeply and as often as you can and then sit back and watch the magic happen. that supply-side magic used to be called voodoo economics. i think people are still suspicious that it will work, especially if we're feeling that we need to get our debt and deficit under control. >> rich? >> democrats always refer to it as a tax cut. but it's not a tax cut. it's designed to be revenue neutral. it's based on the template of the bowles-simpson plan which has been subject to bipartisan acclaim and the 1986 tax reform which was one of the great
bipartisan accomplishments in this town over the last 30 years. and if you study the effects of that '86 tax reform which lowered rates and closed loopholes, it actually increased the share that the rich were paying. so this is not some fantasy. >> but it's supposed to raise revenue. >> right. because if you -- depending on how you fool around with the rates and how many deductions and loopholes you actually close, you can fiddle with the numbers. and this whole idea the obama campaign and the democrats have been pushing that romney, because he hasn't said what deductions and loopholes specifically he's going to close, which no presidential campaign ever does, therefore he's going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for lowering rates is an utterly fantasy made out of utter wholecloth. >> well, paul ryan was on the simpson-bowles commission and dissented from it because it did raise revenue. he dropped out. he blew up the gang of six. he got zero democratic votes for any of his budgets. >> not only -- >> he dissented -- >> he did not think it went far enough on health care. >> right. and that's the key thing. even president obama, who's cut $700 billion from medicare, which i guess you support --
>> which paul ryan -- >> do you support $700 billion in cuts in medicare over the next ten years? >> i'm not running for president. paul ryan. >> do you? why can't you answer? >> paul ryan is running for vice president. >> see, you can't answer. >> but wait, i'm not running for anything. >> democrats have cut $700 billion. do you support it? >> why are you -- >> because you're an opinion maker who is supposed to give you your opinions. >> what i want to know is the logic of -- >> democrats cannot defend that. >> what i want to know is the logic -- >> defend it. >> wait. rich, hold on. >> you're not answering. >> can i say something? >> you can answer. >> can i say something? >> let her answer because i want to go back to bill bennett. >> what i want to know is the logic of attacking somebody for something that you yourself are proposing to do. paul ryan proposes keeping -- >> mitt romney -- >> hold on. rich and rachel, i'm going to pull back for -- no, no. i'm going to pull back from this. i want to ask bill bennett a
separate question. this debate will go on. one of the questions i think a lot of people watching, bill, is they want to understand, a majority of the country still doesn't know much about paul ryan, his position certainly in congress will be debated and taken on. you've known him since he -- for a long time since his 20s, he came to washington. tell us more about him. how approaches governing, how he approaches politics, how he approaches these key questions on the economy. >> yeah, just listening to rich and rachel reminded me of the irishman who walks by a fight -- asks is this a private fight or can anyone get in on it? i'll answer your question. ryan, i think the person you think about when you think about ryan is kemp. he came to work for jack kemp. he came down to the office, he said we do economics, what do you guys do? i said we do sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, it's pretty interesting. come back here. but he was more interested in the economics stuff. he's got the kemp manner. he has a manner and a way of bringing everybody in. you know jack kemp used to believe if you get 11 people in
a huddle he could persuade people who didn't agree with him. paul is a guy who can persuade people. even the people he most disagrees with, have high regard for him, and his intellectual integrity. people like chris van holland and others. he is a worker. i indefatigable worker. he sleeps on the couch in his office. i've been with him on the mountain trail. he leaves me five miles behind. he does that px-90, is that what it's called? i don't even know the name of it. but, it's -- he's an extraordinarily dedicated and hard-working person. but i think what's emerged from paul ryan is not just the intellectual leadership, but an ability to argue and to persuade which i think is going to be critical given the enormity of the problems we're facing. >> dan balz -- >> the more people see him the more people like him. >> just about ten seconds. the week ahead. what are you looking for? >> well, i'm looking forward to the ferocity of the attack by the democrats. how quickly it comes. i think the other is how quickly the romney/ryan ticket can now get back to the significance of the economy as an issue.
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